Hemorrhoids during pregnancy occur because the blood vessels in the rectal area or vagina have become overly swollen. Pregnant women are susceptible to having hemorrhoids because of the increase in the amount of blood circulating in the body and in part due to hormonal changes. An increase in progesterone levels can help in the softening of the vein walls thereby causing it to collapse and not function normally. Hemorrhoids can also be aggravated by the pressure of the enlarged uterus, on the lower abdominal veins.  However too much straining during a bowel movement can also predispose an individual to forming hemorrhoids.

The symptoms of hemorrhoids depend on its location. Individuals who suffer from internal hemorrhoids often complain of bright red blood covering the stool, on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. The irritation or straining from a passing stool on the surface of a hemorrhoid causes it to bleed. And because the internal anal membranes lack the nerve fibers responsible for perceiving pain, it doesn’t cause any discomfort. It can only cause pain and irritation only if it is pushed through the anal opening, and if it remains displaced.

External hemorrhoids on the other hand, are those that occur at the distal end of the anal canal. They are sometimes painful and can be accompanied by swelling and irritation. When this happens, an individual may experience itchiness and sometimes it can also bleed. Although it is considered as an embarrassing topic for many, it is important to know several ways to relieve its discomfort.

Pregnant women should avoid sitting for long periods of time. This only puts more pressure on the veins in the anus or rectum. If your work involves too much sitting down, it helps to get up and walk on intervals to relieve the pressure. Instead of sitting down while watching television, it is best to lie on your side so as not to put too much pressure on the area. Wiping gently is also important because the area is very sensitive and wiping aggressively may only irritate the hemorrhoid. Medicated wipes or pre moistened wipes are also quite helpful instead of using dry toilet paper. These medicated pads contain witch hazel, which has been found effective in relieving the pain and itching, associated with external hemorrhoids. Cold compresses on the affected area are also advisable, because it helps in shrinking the swollen tissue. Aside from that, it’s cooling and soothing effects minimizes the discomfort. A sitz bath or basically soaking your rectum in warm water is also helpful, because it can relieve pain and irritation.

However, the best way to avoid it is through prevention. A regular bowel habit is actually your best chance in preventing hemorrhoids. It is essential to consciously consume a diet high in fiber, complemented by plenty of fluids. Pregnant women are prone to constipation, and consumption of a high fiber diet will promote a regular bowel movement. Consume more fruits, vegetables and whole grains because these are rich in fiber. A glass of prune juice a day also helps in preventing constipation. Although it is common for women to have hemorrhoids during pregnancy, it is but important to consult your healthcare provider. Any sign of rectal bleeding should be reported promptly, to rule out any other causes. Pregnancy after all is a delicate condition, and in order for women to nurture another life, they should first start by taking good care of their overall health and well being.